Tribe of Mentors is a collection of over 100 mini-interviews, where some of the world’s most successful people share their ideas around habits, learning, money, relationships, failure, success, and life.
Around the time he turned 40, Tim Ferriss fell into a sea of questions. The man himself barely needs an introduction. After building and automating a multi-million dollar supplement business to the point where he had plenty of time and money, he wrote the de facto blueprint for leaving the rat race in 2007: The 4-Hour Workweek.
The book reached instant bestseller status and catapulted Tim into an entirely new career path as a book author and content creator. The4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef followed, then The Tim Ferriss Show, a highly successful podcast, which lead to a 4-year book break. However, 200 interviews and 300 million downloads later, Tim had to preserve all his findings for bibliophiles, which lead to Tools of Titans.
Given he had so many answers, you’d think by now, Tim would be out of questions. Quite the opposite. Feeling a little directionless after the big 4-0, Tim decided he’d assemble a Tribe of Mentors and ask them all the same 11 questions about books, habits, investments, attitudes and lessons learned.
The result is a fun little compendium of advice from the best. Some will shock you, few will suit you, fewer yet serve you, but that’s precisely the point: you grow with the book, rather than out of it. Here’s a sneak peek of 3 lessons:
- Failure holds a lot of chances, if you look for them.
- Learning to say no in new ways helps you make a long-term habit of it
- Always check why you should not take someone’s advice, then decide if you’ll listen.
Wondering what Tim’s tribe of mentors has told him? Well, wonder no more.
Lesson 1: There are 3 hidden opportunities in each failure.
Rick Rubin is a legend in the music business. The producer has worked with artists from every genre under the sun, ranging from Linkin Park to Johnny Cash, Shakira and Eminem. After dozens of award-winning albums, Rubin has learned one thing: you can’t control the audience. Great records might flop, mediocre ones can take off. All you can do is set yourself the highest standard possible and stick to it.
Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, likes to use failure as an inflection point. If you continue to strike out, maybe it’s time to change the plan and work on a new aspect of your craft. Having been rejected by publishers for 15 years, Steve decided to toss it all for a while, move to Hollywood and learn screenwriting, which later helped him a lot in writing novels.
Another valuable lecture about failure happened upon the Beastie Boys, when their second album tanked: it gives you artistic freedom. Once you’ve hit rock bottom, you’re free to be as creative and bold as you want, because no one expects great things from you anyway.
To sum up, with each failure come three great opportunities:
- Learn to see what you control.
- Figure out where you need to improve.
- Freely express your ideas.
Lesson 2: Keep finding new ways to say no to not get sucked into the wrong commitments.
The more you penetrate your field and establish yourself as an authority, the more people will clamor for your attention. It is usually right when exponential growth is about to kick in and thinking becomes more important, that the world will fight hard to keep you from it. We all know what the solution to this dilemma is – saying no – but it’s very hard to actually practice.
One way to consistently keep your commitments in check is to find new ways to say no in order to be more aware and let less yeses slip through the cracks. Here are some Tim’s idols suggested:
Hire someone to manage your mail and appointments and train them to say no to 99% of all incoming requests.
If you can’t afford staff, pretend you’re the security professional and screen your mail as if you had to protect yourself.
Ask yourself whether you’re only thinking about agreeing because you feel guilty or afraid. Those aren’t good reasons.
Imagine the event happens early the next morning and you’d be in a huge rush to go. Would you still want to?
No is a powerful world, but there’s another side to this story: Gary Vaynerchuk, digital marketing genius, says he still reserves 20% of his time to say yes to things that might seem like they don’t make sense. This way, he accounts for serendipity and remains open to what the future brings.
Lesson 3: Before you take advice, check all potential reasons not to, then decide.
This is a book full of advice, but as Tim explains in the intro, he’s aware that most of it isn’t for you. Only a very small selection of tips from his mentors will have the power to change your life, some might be helpful, but most will never apply. That’s perfectly okay, as long as you stay aware of it.
We live in a culture of glorified advice, when very little of it comes from the right people, and even less of it at the right time. Some of the categories of advice you should always seriously question, before absorbing any, include:
Reducing quality in favor of marketing. Yes, the world has become a noisy place, but the cream always floats to the top.
Being competitive and guarding your ideas. Nine out of ten times, sharing leads to improving, rather than stealing.
Swimming with the stream. Don’t nod if you don’t agree. Teams thrive on multiple opinions.
Expert opinions. Most authorities got to be authorities because they broke the status quo. Maybe now it’s in their best interest to protect it. Think about that.Don’t take my word for it. Or Tim’s. Reflect, balance perspectives, then make your own decisions. Always.
My personal take-aways
This is described as a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ book, but it’s better than that. It’s a ‘flip-to-a-random-page-and-learn-something’ book, perfect for reading in short, daily doses. However, you can just as well filter the advice strategically, if you want to come up with a more elaborate plan. Tribe of Mentors feels like the book Tools of Titans should have been and for re-approaching that concept alone, Tim has once again earned my respect.